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Kids to compete in Memphis for World Junior BBQ League Championship

10 teams of kids, ages 14-18, will compete Saturday at AutoZone Park in a BBQ cooking championship

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Kids in Memphis will compete in a BBQ cooking championship this weekend for a grand prize of $20,000.

7-time World Barbeque Champion Melissa Cookston started the non-profit, World Junior Barbeque League, to share her love of BBQ with kids.

The WJBL also provides kids with scholarships and covers their entry fee, equipment, and supplies for the competition.

The cooking begins at 5 a.m. on Saturday at AutoZone Park.

The bbq teams, made up of kids ages 14 to 18, will compete in cooking chicken thighs, spare ribs, pork butt, and a brisket flat category.

Cookston says they'll gain cooking and life skills.

“BBQ competition is fun," Cookston said. "I’ve been doing it 25 years but you learn so much from it and if we can get these kids out doing competition food cooking instead of other things that they might be doing at this age group, which is so impressionable, I think that’s a great thing.”

Cookston said in the upcoming weeks they'll open a headquarters for the non-profit at a new retail store called BBQ All Stars where kids will be able to go to cook and learn.

"They will always be welcome to come to hang out," she said. "It'll give them a safe space and learn how to cook other things."

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